In March 1990, seven registered nurses from six states met in Atlanta, Georgia, to discuss the feasibility of establishing a national organization for nurses who care for patients with pain. The nurses who attended the meeting were Georgeann Abraham (California), Chris Pasero (Louisiana), Linda Preble (Connecticut), Barbara Reed (Georgia), Sherry Sosna (Missouri), Gwen Turnage (Missouri), and Lorie Wild (Washington), all of whom specialized in the rapidly growing field of pain management.

During the weekend meeting, these nurses agreed that there was a clear need for such an organization. By the conclusion of the March meeting, they had selected the organization’s name, the American Society of Pain Management Nurses (ASPMN®), and written its mission statement. They agreed that the primary immediate objective of the ASPMN® would be to provide a network for nurses working in the new specialty of pain management. They decided that providing a forum for pain management education was crucial and began formulating preliminary plans for a national educational conference.

The first order of business was to contact the Board of Directors of the American Pain Society to discuss whether or not the objectives of the ASPMN® could be met through the formation of an APS nursing special interest group within the APS. Over the next few months, the APS Board as well as the American Society of Anesthesiologists and the American Society of Regional Anesthesiologists acknowledged the need for a separate and independent nursing organization to meet the majority of the goals set by the founders.

With such support, the founders moved forward with the work of formally establishing ASPMN®. Task forces, each comprised of two or three founders, were formed to work on various projects, including bylaws, standards development, and logo design. Communication between the founders, which occurred almost daily, was accomplished through the use of a voicemail system sponsored by Bard MedSystems Division of C.R. Bard, Inc.

One more face-to-face meeting took place in Atlanta in June of 1990 to review task force work and finalize plans for the educational conference, officially named the ASPMN® First Annual Meeting. At the June meeting, the founders established a membership fee of $35.00. Bard MedSystems donated seed money in the form of gift certificates of memberships, which were given to the first 100 nurses who joined the new organization.

In preparation for the First Annual Meeting, each founder contacted two or three different manufacturers of pain management products and equipment to invite them to sponsor and exhibit at the conference; seven companies agreed to participate: Abbott, Bard MedSystems, Burron, Janssen, Neuromed, Pharmacia, and Russ Pharmaceuticals. These manufacturers also helped to advertise the meeting by circulating a one-page flyer to their customers informing them of the meeting date and location.

The ASPMN® First Annual Meeting was held in Coral Gables, Florida, on February 8-10, 1991. The choice of a warm weather site was a wise one. To the amazement of the founders, 103 nurses from 26 states attended. The two-day conference provided content on pathophysiology of pain, pain in the home health setting, management of acute exacerbation of pain in the chronic pain patient, cancer pain, empowerment of the bedside nurse as primary pain manager, new approaches in pain management, setting up a pain service, and reimbursement for pain management. Notable speakers were Kathleen Wallace, PhD, RN, and Allen Hord, MD. A questionnaire completed by those who attended the meeting revealed that networking was the most valuable asset of the meeting, and 100% requested an annual educational meeting. They suggested topics of interest for future meetings, including management of chronic nonmalignant pain, pharmacology, and legal issues related to pain management.

The founders provided leadership for ASPMN® for the first two years while membership steadily grew each year to nearly 300 by the end of 1991 and 500 by the end of 1992. Linda Preble served as chairperson, Chris Pasero as secretary, and Barbara Reed as treasurer for the organization. The founders served as liaisons to committees composed of member volunteers. During that time, bylaws and standards were written and a quarterly newsletter was mailed to members and hospitals nationwide. The annual educational meeting became a standard offering. Two hundred and fifty-five nurses (approximately 50% of the membership) attended the Second Annual Meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1992, and 345 attended the Third Annual Meeting in Scottsdale, Arizona, in 1993. The membership elected its first officers and board of directors in 1992.

Prepared by: Chris Pasero, MS, RN, and Barbara Reed, MN, RN, GNP

* In March 2004 the name was changed to American Society for Pain Management Nursing®

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